I hate it when I  hear my friends identify themselves as an Oreo, apple, or twinkie. Racial food groups are on my shit list of terms I would like to see disappear.

Over at Racialicious, Thea Lim has nailed something that I haven’t been able to articulate:

Apart from the fact that hey, I’m a whole person, referring to my different ethnic heritages as fractions leads to some sort of existential apartheid. When I refer to myself (or others) as half this and half that, what I am implying (whatever my intentions) is that half my body, self and experience is Chinese, and half of my body, self and experience is White.

I’m implying that the halves of my body are separately Chinese and White, that if you cut me in half you could clearly see which parts were white, and which were POC. That’s clearly untrue, even if my right hand is way better with chopsticks than my left.

I was  multicultural before Obama made it cool, but I’m finally linguistically nerdy enough to pinpoint why this bothers me .

When you refer to a human being as half of something, you imply that s/he is partial at best and fractured at worst. “My grandmother was Navajo.”  honors a family’s heritage and culture. “I’m 1/4 Navajo.” makes you wonder if some of the ingredients are missing.

As Thea Lim points out, people of mixed-race identity often deal with feelings of inadequacy and inauthenticity. The language of halves, quarters, and fractions perpetuates this. This is the subtle Oreo, apple, and twinkie. For my sanity (and possibly yours), I refer to my race and ethnicity as Chinese and French.

Try this out:  “My family is ___________. I grew up in ____________.”

Doesn’t that sound more complete? I think so. Let’s change our language.

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